It All Started With a Bag
Text by Meagan Dill
Photographs courtesy of Louis Vuitton
The Louis Vuitton monogram is without a doubt one of the most iconic logos in the world. Although it has been reproduced countless times, there’s still no mistaking what it stands for: luxury, elegance, and timelessness.
It’s hard to believe that this monogram would probably not exist if it weren’t for a set of events beginning with one day in 1835, when a 14-year-old boy named Louis left the small village that he had grown up in. He began a journey on foot that would take him 250 miles to Paris, where a new life awaited him. It was in Paris that this boy served as an apprentice to a maker and packer of traveller’s trunks.
He worked his way up, and by 1854 he opened his own store. Even as long as a century and a half ago, it was clear that a bag made by Louis Vuitton meant top quality – after all, once an empress had declared him as her favourite luggage specialist, soon all of Paris wanted a bag made by him. Although much else has changed in the time that’s passed since then, the level of appeal of the Louis Vuitton bag is just as high as it ever was.
But the Louis Vuitton bag was not, and is not, merely a fashion accessory. Although there’s no denying the aesthetic attractiveness of their products, it is also clear that quality and innovation are indispensable to the Louis Vuitton brand.
Once again, these brand values can be seen in Louis Vuitton’s founder. Not content with simply reproducing versions of what was already available, Vuitton went about finding ways to improve these basics, aiming to make them more useful, more practical and generally more advanced.
Throughout this period of innovation for Louis Vuitton, time and time again his adjustments and innovations would fulfil needs that the consumer had not even realised they’d had. This is what truly sets Louis Vuitton apart from other luxury brands. Take, for example, the “wardrobe suitcase”. First produced in 1875, was designed to be stored upright and opened vertically. It’s elongated shape allowed for hanging space in the one side while the other side provided space for packing, in the form of several small pull-out drawers. This meant that unpacking would be unnecessary once the traveller’s destination had been reached. Thus, the bag was not only beautiful but practical and convenient too.
However, as with all great products, imitation was, of course, inevitable. It was in hope of preventing counterfeiting that the Louis Vuitton monogram was designed by Vuitton’s son, Georges Vuitton, in 1896. Today, it is instantly clear how this was at once both successful and unsuccessful. It’s true that that Louis Vuitton goods remain popular targets for counterfeiting even today. However, it has become impossible to imagine the Louis Vuitton brand without its monogram. The entire feel, style and signature of the brand revolves around this simple design.
Over the years, the Louis Vuitton brand, though still renowned for its top quality luggage, has expanded to a modern empire, selling not only bags but also purses, jewellery, clothing, shoes and more. With legendary designer Marc Jacobs at the helm of the creative direction of the brand since 1997, it seems that Louis Vuitton’s history of success and quality seems set to repeat itself time and time again. Thanks to the brand’s consistent history, it’s safe to say that a Louis Vuitton bag is so much more than an accessory: it’s an investment.